By Muhammadu Sabiu
The Presidential Election Petitions Court has rendered its decision on the petition filed by the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), challenging the eligibility of President Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima to run for office.
In a ruling delivered on Wednesday, the court announced that it lacked the jurisdiction to hear the case, deeming it a pre-election matter that should have been addressed in a high court.
Justice Haruna Tsammani, who read the lead judgement, clarified that the issues raised by APM were indeed pre-election matters and fell outside the purview of the Presidential Election Petitions Court.
He emphasised that the 180-day timeframe stipulated for addressing such issues had already passed. Citing legal precedent in the case of Alhassan and others versus Ishaku and others, Justice Tsammani underscored that election tribunals do not have the authority to delve into the internal affairs of a political party, including issues related to primary elections.
Instead, matters of qualification and disqualification are governed by the provisions of Sections 131 and 137(1)(a)(j) of the Nigerian Constitution. The crux of APM’s argument revolved around their contention that Tinubu and Shettima had not been validly nominated to contest the February 25 election.
They argued that a combination of constitutional provisions and the Electoral Act rendered their nominations invalid. Specifically, APM claimed that the period between Kabiru Masari’s announcement of withdrawal as an APC placeholder on June 24, 2022, and the date Shettima’s name was forwarded to INEC on July 14, 2022, exceeded the 14-day limit stipulated in Section 33 of the Electoral Act for the replacement of a candidate.
However, the court’s ruling ultimately found that these issues should have been raised in a high court, not within the jurisdiction of the Presidential Election Petitions Court.
This decision marks a pivotal moment in the legal battle surrounding the qualifications of President Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima, effectively concluding that the matter remains an internal concern of a political party and beyond the court’s authority to adjudicate.